KEYNOTE SPEAKER: KAY COLES JAMES, HEAD, US OFFICE OF PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT
OHIO VOTES FOR LIFE RALLY
OHIO RIGHT TO LIFE
Bicentennial Park, Columbus, Ohio
September 25, 2004
INTRODUCTION: PHIL HEIMLICH:
How often do we get to hear from somebody who has served under three United States Presidents? Well, our keynote speaker has. She was appointed by President Reagan as head of the National Commission on Children. President George H. W. Bush appointed her Associate Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and Assistant Secretary of Public Affairs for the Department of Health and Human Services. She now serves under President George W. Bush as the head of the US Office of Personnel Management and is the leader of a dynamic agency with 3600 employees and a budget of $261,000,000. She is a former senior vice president of the Family Research Council. She’s a frequent commentator on news and talk shows throughout the country. Her editorials have been featured in newspapers throughout the country. She’s also the author of three books including her award winning 1993 autobiography Never Forget: Transforming America from the Inside Out. Most importantly she’s dynamic speaker on pro-life issues. Will you please join me in giving a warm Ohio welcome to Kay Coles James. (NOTE: hese are actually two books: Never Forget: The Riveting Story of One Woman's Journey From Public Housing to the Corridors of Power and Transforming America Ffrom the Inside Out.
KAY COLES JAMES:
Hello! What an enthusiastic crowd. I understand you’re all here because there’s no football? (laughter) I’ll bet you’re all here because you believe in the value, and the dignity, and the sanctity of human life. (applause)
There are people that I know here that have been at this for a very very very very long time. And I indeed have as well. And when I first started speaking out on behalf of life it was quite a different day. Back in “the day,” as my kids are fond of saying, we used to debate things like “is it really life anyway?” Some of you may remember those early debates. And, of course, those of you who have carried a pro-life message for a very long time can remember going on the college campuses, the church basements, the community centers, and making the case that if it isn’t life you don’t have to kill it so we don’t have a problem. If it isn’t life leave it alone and see what it grows in to. If it isn’t life then we really don’t need to be having this debate. But ladies and gentlemen, science and technology caught up with the pro-life debate, and there is no denying that what you have on the pre-birth side is a full-fledged human being.
So not only do I want to welcome you today to a pro-life rally, but I want to welcome you today to the vanguard of the civil rights movement. (applause) Because we are determined to protect a life that is placed in jeopardy just because it’s very very little, lives inside its mom, and can’t be seen. And so, this young human being is being discriminated against because of size, age, and place of residence. (laughter, applause) So for all those individuals who like to fashion themselves being compassionate, I encourage them to join our ranks and fight for what I believe to be one of the most fundamental issues in America today.
And this fight that we’re engaged in, this war that we’re engaged in is a battle not against some surgical procedure. Any time somebody calls you anti-abortion, you know something about them immediately. Immediately you know that they do not understand what we are about. We are, in fact, pro-life and what we are engaged in is a battle for the heart and soul of this nation because we want to return this nation to a culture of life (applause) And so we may get tired of one more election, one more educational campaign, one more lit drop, one more mailing to get out, but because it is so fundamentally important to the heart of this nation, we don’t have the right or the privilege to grow tired or worried, we have to keep goong. We are not going to stop until we have a compassionate nation that promotes a culture of life both here and abroad. We are not going to sit back and let the elitists and pseudo-intellectuals of our land promote a culture where disabled pre-born children are not welcome in our world. We are not going to let those elitists and pseudo-intellectuals tell us that the solution to poverty is somehow eliminating the numbers of poor children who are welcome in our world. We are not going to sit back and allow the elitists and pseudo-intellectuals in our country to somehow convince the rest of America that if you are elderly you have a duty to die. We have a job to do. An important job, and it is one that will affect the course of this nation.
So what happened in 1973 with Roe v Wade and Doe v Bolton and subsequent Supreme Court decisions? Is it simply that now abortion is more prevalent in America? I want to suggest to you that something more profound and more important than that happened. What has happened to our great nation is that we now have a generation that has not been endowed with this culture of life which is so important to us. And what is the outcome of that? What does that mean? If you do not instill in our nation and particularly in our young…. thank God for the yellow shirts! * I’m glad you’re here! (applause) …It gives me hope.
But what happens to young people when they are not given that pro-life ethic—that value of life ethic? That’s when you find young gang leaders who can put a gun at somebody’s head at point blank range and pull the trigger and not flinch because he does not value life. That’s what happens when you have not taught that young person to respect life. When people can walk past a homeless person and not feel any empathy or sympathy because they don’t have a pro-life ethic. That happens because they don’t value human life. What happens when you don‘t continue to talk about the value and the dignity and sanctity of human life is that we can now put our elderly in warehouses across America and not respect them for the contributions that they have made and allow some of our culture and in our society to say that they have a duty to die and make room for the younger people in America. That’s what happens when you don’t have a pro-life culture.
And so we have politicians going around our country today and saying that they are going to fight for our right for education. They are going to fight for our right for access to health care. And they’re going to fight for our right to housing and jobs. Well, I’ve got news for them. The right to have access to healthcare means nothing if you have not first secured my right to live. (applause)
The right to have housing means nothing if you won’t protect my right in my first home, inside my mom which is now probably one of the most violent places in America. Fight for that right. (applause)
And it’s nice that you build wonderful buildings and you want to talk about…. that you will fight for the right to educate me, but would you please first fight for my right to live and walk and love among you? (applause)
I told you I’ve been at this a long time. And I’ve also told you that this is a battle for the heart and the soul of the nation. There are those individuals who speak out on behalf of women, and God bless them. Lord knows that we have needed that kind of voice in America. There are those who speak out for minority groups. Lord knows I’m thankful that the civil rights movement was there and I have benefited from so many of the sacrifices of those individuals. But I have to tell you I’m glad that you are here today to speak out on behalf of and fight for the right of preborn children to be here. (applause)
Ladies and gentlemen, the very first debate I ever did on this issue I realized that God had not left me without a testimony. And when I was challenged by the person who was representing an organization that I believe represents a culture of death-- that person said to me, “How dare you! How dare you with your middle class values take away something which is so fundamentally important to poor women? And that poor women need the right to have abortions in order to improve their quality of lives.”
And I as able to say to that woman at that time, “You counsel women. Explain to me what you would say to the woman who comes to you and says l suffer every day of my life, living with a husband who is struggling with alcohol. And because of his alcohol addiction he physically abuses me and sometimes I have to place my body between him and the children.” And this woman says to you today I found myself pregnant yet again, and I already have five children that I can’t take care of. I don’t know how I’m gonna keep food on the table or heat in the house or clothes on their backs. And I’m comin’ to you looking for answers and looking for help. Can you help me?”
What would you say to her? And, of course, the answer was, “I would say to her, that as a loving mother she would have to consider the option of abortion because what loving mother would bring a child into the world under those circumstances. I would say to her, that she should not consider stretching the family’s meager resources for one more child. And I would say to her that I’m glad that I am working hard to keep abortion safe and legal.”
And I said, “I have a vested interest in what you would say to that woman, because that woman was my mother. And I was that child.”
And so ladies and gentleman, while the women have their leaders, while other minority groups have their leaders. I‘m glad that you were there for people like me, speaking out on children’s behalf. (applause). That you said even though I came from a poor mom and dad that I was welcome in your world, and in case you hadn’t noticed you need not worry about my quality of life.. It’s quite good. (applause) by the way.
And so I will leave our take-away lesson from that story is simply this: that every life is precious in his sight. And every life is an unopened gift from God. And we dare not be so rude as to send back a gift from Him unopened.
Keep up the fight!
Thank you Kay. Powerful.